SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – As firefighters continue to battle over a dozen wildfires in the Napa and Sonoma Valley wine country, air quality remains an issue across the Bay Area.
The Bay Area Air Quality Management District issued a health advisory and Spare the Air alert Tuesday, saying smoke from the wildfires are leading to “very unhealthy” air quality and “unprecedented” levels of air pollution.
District officials warn wildfires could impact air quality for many days to come.
WINE COUNTRY WILDFIRES: Continuing Coverage
Air quality experts say the particulate matter in the smoke can be especially dangerous for young children, the elderly, pregnant women, and those with respiratory issues like asthma.
Earlier, the National Weather Service tweeted Tuesday that particulate matter from smoke is making the air unhealthy for San Francisco, much of the Peninsula and the entire North Bay.
Parts of the East Bay and Peninsula have air that is unhealthy for sensitive groups such as those with heart disease, older adults and children.
For a second straight morning, a thick haze and the smell of smoke was prevalent in downtown San Francisco, including the KPIX 5 studios.
Kristen Magnuson was bicycling along the Embarcadero. “It burns a little bit in my lungs,” Magnuson told KPIX 5. “I was coughing a bit and then had to blink a lot more than usual.”
Mehek Sharma said smoke is an issue even inside her San Francisco office.
“I just feel this heaviness in my throat right here. I just feel like it’s a bit hard to breathe,” Sharma said “Everyone refused to open the windows because it was too hazy and people were feeling it in their throats.”
People in the Bay Area again posted pictures of the smoke and haze on social media.
The air quality management district urges people in Napa and Sonoma Counties who are impacted by smoke to seek shelter in buildings with filtered air or to move to areas that aren’t impacted as much by smoke until conditions improve.
In other parts of the Bay Area, the district urged residents who see or smell smoke to avoid outdoor activities and to prevent children from playing outdoors while smoky conditions last. Residents are urged to keep windows and doors closed and to run air conditioners on recirculated air.
Bay Area residents were also urged to curtail activities that could create additional air pollution such as wood burning, mowing, leaf blowing, driving and barbecuing.
“What I would say is if you smell smoke, see smoke, protect yourself,” Air District spokesperson Lisa Faisano told KPIX 5.
People with asthma, heart disease or lung disease are urged to follow their doctor’s recommendations and to contact their physician if symptoms worsen.
The San Francisco Department of Public Health announced Tuesday that residents could find respite from poor air quality by visiting library branches that have air filters.
Library locations include the city’s main library at 100 Larkin Street, the Chinatown Branch Library at 1135 Powell Street, the Mission Bay Branch Library at 960 Fourth Street and the Glen Park Branch Library at 2825 Diamond Street.